Preparations

With the American economy in a tailspin and the approaching Obama victory in November, I wonder if Catholics ought to be making some common-sense preparations. Thanks to the corruption and stupidity of the Republicans, the toxic mix of economic austerity and a hard-left government could be an imminent reality. Expect the latter to use the former as a pretext for lots of mischief. What to do? Most advisors would say “pay off your mortgage”, but for most of us it is too late for that. The layoffs will continue, the foreclosures will continue, the slide of the dollar will continue, the shrinking of credit will continue, the energy crisis will continue, etc., and very soon, the liberal social agenda will escalate.

Yesterday, you could work at your job and stay in your cubicle while ignoring the anti-Christian bias of your employer. Tomorrow, you may be required to compromise your convictions.

Yesterday, if your employer asked for too much compromise, you could simply find another job. Tomorrow, that may not be an option.

Yesterday, if you needed to sell your home in order to adjust to lower wages, you could downsize accordingly. Tomorrow, that may not be an option.

Yesterday, you could borrow from your 401K to get through some hard times. Tomorrow (heck, today!) that may not be an option.

I haven’t thought about this methodically, so I’d like to hear your suggestions. Here are a few of my own off the top of my head:

1. Get used to the idea of poverty. It can be an effective means of sanctification, and it may be forced upon you anyway.

2. Go to confession, pray, and get your spiritual life in order. Massive social unrest can be lethal.

3. Cultivate and/or restore your relationships with family, neighbors, and friends. You’re going to need each other.

4. Keep your vehicles in good working order and keep the tanks full. You never know when you might need to get out of Dodge. It’s a good idea to own a vehicle large enough to live out of, if necessary. We just bought a 12-passenger van.

5. Buy guns, learn how to use them, and make sure at least one more person in the household can shoot. A new and dangerous underclass could emerge quickly (and indeed is already emerging).

6. Keep a few weeks of food and water in storage. Store your water in juice bottles and milk cartons.

7. If possible, move away from large urban centers.

8. Grow as much of your own food as possible.

9. Learn how to effectively resist (or avoid) the aggressive social policies of Big Brother. Some jobs, for example, will be more vulnerable to coercion and manipulation than others. Know when to speak out and when to keep silent. But if possible, resist the new “policies” openly. Let there be a record. Make things difficult for the new regime.

20 thoughts on “Preparations

  1. One way to resist is to follow the path of Chesterton… Belloc… Frs Vincent McNabb and Luigi Liguti and flee Babylon – “Flee to the Fields”, as Belloc penned. The industrial age has destroyed the Traditional Catholic Family. Capitalism looks a lot like Socialism, even Communism these days. Rooted in Calvinism, I wonder if Capitalism can ever work for ue Catholics…

    This is an important post. We put an advert in the local paper – anyone w/extra produce, we’ll come and pick it – let us know. We’ve been in prep-mode for some time. Many think we are ‘doomish’. I see Hope in some of this… Hope w/a painful course, and much cost….

    (This is why I asked you a few posts ago what you can do to make a go of it on your land. The land is our only Hope. As Traditional Catholics. Many liberal Catholics will follow the path you outline above, I’m afraid.)

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  2. My family has been planning for these contingencies; but not well enough, because we get complacent. We live in earthquake country, where “the big one” has not yet materialized.

    We try to consider the gas tank empty at the half-way mark and fill up at that point.

    We keep emergency water but we know it’s not enough for our family for the long term, only the short; so we’ve looked at how we could get water from the local lakes and reservoirs.

    We’ve discussed exit routes from our area, and realize that blocking them off would be a snap. We’ve imagined ourselves going over the hills like the Von Trapp family and laughed at our dramatics. And then we grow quiet, because underneath the self-deprecating humor, the unspoken unthinkable remains.

    We’ve wondered, my husband and I, how we’ll get to our elderly and infirm parents while rounding up our children, flung far and wide during the day at schools and jobs. We have some cash on hand, but joke that investing in liquor and cigarettes to barter on the black market might be a better idea.

    We don’t have a generator, but we do have a camp-stove, and propane to last a while. We’ve got a bucket of freeze-dried meals from Costco that will provide a bunch of meals for a family of five. Got to have water for that, though; a bit of a drawback.

    We live close enough to an urban area to know that we are not far away enough from social anarchy. So, we’ve got a gun and ammunition, but it’s not enough. I still want that shotgun.

    And after all this? I am reminded that we must “fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

    God will watch over His own, so we must stay close to Him through the sacraments, prayer and fasting. Lord knows we have brought this chastisement upon ourselves. May He have mercy on us.

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  3. Learn to cook. From basic ingredients.

    This is a corollary of points 1, 5, 6, 8, and even 3.

    I am convinced that this is far more important in the salvaging of civilization than most people realize.

    Of course point 2 is the best preparation.

    peace,

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  4. “Learn to cook. From basic ingredients.

    This is a corollary of points 1, 5, 6, 8, and even 3.

    I am convinced that this is far more important in the salvaging of civilization than most people realize.”

    Spot on. This is an opportunity, albeit a painful one, for the Traditional Catholic family to go back to it’s roots… The course, the path to get there, will be painful, though. Perhaps, on the other side of that pain – a better world for our children. A better opportunity for them to really practive the Faith.

    Simplicity… Simple living. It’s rooted in Christ. Not the political left, not in Captitalism/Socialism/Communism/Consumerism…. None of which, to me, are Catholic concepts….

    God is Sovereign.

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  5. Been meaning to buy that thing at Coscto anyway, I hope there’s a paycheck on payday Wednesday. I think our friends have an extra rain barrel we can buy. I’m glad keeping the tank full was mentioned.
    I just really hope what I think is starting isn’t starting.
    My mom and dad suspect we’ll be growing potatoes at our family’s ranch in Mendocino Country. At least we have those surf fishing nets still. And we have a well. So if all else fails, that’s where we go. 18 hours away, though. I’ll need a couple gas tanks at least.
    How about buying seeds? Where is the best place to buy seeds?

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  6. Jeff –

    Good point about guns, and I’d advise people to get moving. Our local gun shop has been experiencing strong sales. This is not necessarily a recent phenomenon: according to store staff, people have been saying for months that they’re stocking up on the firearms they think a President Obama and Democratic Congress might ban. I had to get on a wait list for the semi-auto pistol I wanted, and they had to special order my semi-automatic rifle (which is illegal in CA, BTW, and would be for the USA if Obama had his way).

    We live far out in the country, and it’s dawning on us just how long it might take over-taxed police to come to our assistance if there’s much disorder in the cities. Or if any significant number of displaced urbanites shows up at our farm looking for something to eat.

    My family and I are more than happy to assist individuals or families in need. But if an unruly mob of displaced urbanites surfaces, demanding what we’ve stored for our own family, my instructions to “Move Along, police have been summoned,” might be listened to more readily with an AK-47, rather than a .22 rifle, slung over my shoulder.

    Bottom line: when I speak softly to the crowd, this far from police assistance, I want to be carrying as big a stick as possible.

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  7. The other thing I’d advise people to get moving on: bullion. Watching the spot price of gold and silver, I assumed there was plenty of opportunity to get any precious metals I might want to have. Turns out, though, that those commodity prices are totally disconnected from reality. Remember the gas lines of the 1970s, brought on by price controls and rationning? Try going to the local gold/silver dealer, and you’ll find the same thing. You CANNOT GET BULLION at anywhere near the “spot price,” if you can find it at all. The big national dealers like Monex and Blanchard have absolutely nothing.

    After many calls, I lucked out and found some silver at a mom and pop store 30 miles from here. Had them hold it for me. Drove up there, and found many frustrated customers who wanted the bullion that I was taking. Dealer probably could’ve sold my silver Maple Leaf coins a dozen times over, and we thank God we could snag them when we did. I probably could’ve sold them in the parking lot for significantly more than I paid.

    Something really strange is happening in this market. Google “gold bullion shortage” and look for the things that have been written about this recently. Demand for these coins is enormous, and the US Mint simply isn’t making them. There is a very, very big disconnect between demand and the published “price.”

    This particular article is especially well-researched — and troubling:

    http://seekingalpha.com/article/91357-the-disconnect-between-supply-and-demand-in-gold-silver-markets

    Imagine the uproar and upheval when the big banks are forced to open their vaults and reveal there isn’t real bullion backing the futures contracts they’ve sold.

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  8. 1) guns and ammo: You only really need one good rifle, .30 calibre at least. One of my friends makes that one per person capable of wielding a gun. I have a semi-auto 30-06. If you need more than 100 rounds, you should be somewhere else. A shotgun is way over rated. It’s good for bird hunting and scaring people, but unless you’re at very close range, it’s not a good weapon. And 12 gauge is way too big for most people, it is physically painful to fire. A good handgun is a very handy self-defense weapon. Good choices are .38 revolver and .45 ACP.

    2) metals: silver is much more usable than gold. With a one-ounce gold coin going for close to $900, it’s not much use for buying just a tank of gas or a bag of flour. The best value in silver is “junk” coins. Those are pre-1964 silver US coins, considered unsuitable for collectors. They go for pretty close to the spot price based on silver content, and they are in convenient sizes for actually purchasing necessities. If you insist on getting 99.9% fine or bullion coins, the Mexican silver Pesos trade at a much lower premium than the US Silver Eagles. They are also much more available. The risk is that they may not be recognized by everybody.

    3) Water: Absolute essential. Camping supply stores sell water purification equipment, including campfire distillers and sub-micron filters. Any water filter you buy for emergency use should include silver in the filter matrix. This prevents bacteria and parasites reproducing through the filter. Carbon for water filtering can be renewed by baking for 10-30 minutes in a 500F oven. You will lose some volume (up to 1/3), and it will generate carbon monoxide, by it re-activates the carbon. You can make up the difference by adding some charcoal to the mix before roasting it.

    4)food: by all means, get some dehydrated food, but save your money for dried vegetables and small amounts of meat. Mostly, get beans and rice. You can live a long time on beans and rice, with the daily can of green beans or frozen broccoli. Both can be cooked with nothing more than a couple of pans of water and produce a very good meal. The water doesn’t even have to be drinkable. If you need to travel, the beans can be cooked by bringing to a boil in the morning, and putting the pot into an insulated box, lined with paper, blankets, old styrofoam cups, Fibreglas building insulation, whatever. Add a piece of jerky and some dried onions to make a memorable meal. If you can find one, a cast-iron dutch oven, the kind with 3 stubby legs and a rim around the lid, is an extremely useful pot for cooking everything from beans to biscuits.

    4) Most important, land: Stored food will only work for so long in a real societal disruption. You need to be able to make more. If you can’t buy land, find another way to grow a garden. Many cities have community gardening programs. Maybe someone you know owns a vacant lot. Friends and family might have someplace for you to grow. Seeds are important, but remember, most of what you eat is seeds and tubers, including: beans, potatoes, popcorn, garlic, many herbs and spices, millet, sunflower, pumpkin seeds, & mustard. Some others, such as carrots and onions are biennials that can be replanted to produce seed for next year. These days most are hybrids and won’t produce true to type, but they will produce something edible, and something is better than nothing. That said, there’s nothing wrong with buying seeds. My favorite seed seller is Baker Creek seeds.

    5) location: It’s true that if there are rampaging mobs looting and pillaging, the cities would be very unsafe. The converse is that if there is a general shortage of food and medical care, the cities will be the safest place to be. I consider that to be the more likely outcome of the current troubles. Governments will make sure that the cities have food, because that’s where the governments are based. The churches will concentrate their charitable efforts there because that’s where it will do the most good.

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  9. Annabendetti – thanks for that CNBC link. The commentator confirmed my hunch about what will happen with the “paper” gold market collapses.

    Danby – Yes, we’re buying silver coins like the Maple Leaf for emergency trading purposes. But I’d also like to get some gold (if possible) for the investment value. You’re right that gold is not practical for trading.

    And I’d second what you said about a .45 ACP being an excellent pistol choice. Many have high capacity clips, and they all have a lot of stopping power.

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  10. Danby, interesting point about the junk silver coins. Where are those available from a trustworthy source?

    Most of this is not relevant to me simply because I am so incompetent and will have to hope that things never get this bad. My chief material thought was to shift some retirement stocks a few months ago to a less aggressive position. Now I wish I’d shifted even more. I also “invested” in some dresses for the girls from Lands End in a big stock-up purchase. This season Lands End has some really nice and good-value styles, in all girls’ sizes, and I figure the dresses are going to lose their value much more slowly than the dollars used to purchase them! (From my daughter’s economics book I learn that this sort of reasoning and people’s acting on it causes the velocity of money to increase.)

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  11. If things get bad enough that how many silver coins you have might begin to matter in theory, we aren’t going to be bartering with silver. We are going to be bartering with food. You can’t suddenly return a population of six billion modern people to the nineteenth century and expect personal stocks of precious metals to even be a pertinent issue.

    Fortunately, I think the chances of it are slim. But when it comes to stocking commodities in the bomb shelter, past valuations are no guarantor of future value. It won’t be the same game. At all.

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  12. Great ideas and advice, everyone. Many, many thanks to all of you. Chris and Dan, I needed that push to “get moving” with the firearms and training. Our 20-gauge shotgun doesn’t quite meet the need here.

    As for the land issue, even with 20 acres we’re just as vulnerable as the suburbanites. We can make a little money on our land, and we already do, but the question is whether we can make enough to pay the mortgage. Barring a large infusion of capital, at present the answer is definitely “no”.

    The key is owning one’s land outright. We had that opportunity years ago and just blew it. However – renting a little country place with an acre or three is probably within the reach of most people. One could do a lot worse.

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  13. The key is owning one’s land outright.

    There really is no such thing. I’ve never had a mortgage, but when I lived in California I paid more to rent my own property from the government than most of my current neighbors pay annually on their mortgages.

    And again, the economic doomsday issue is not learning how to live in nineteenth century living conditions, full stop. It is returning suddenly to nineteenth century living conditions with five times the population (two and a half times the population of the thirties) who now have to live off of nineteenth century food production; a population made up of people whose main skills in living off the land come from simulation video games, “reality” TV shows, and movies of people holed up in a shopping mall trying to escape from zombies. Who has what legal title to what under the present legal regime ranks fairly low on the totem pole of what would be pertinent, right down there with how many junk silver coins one has in a chest.

    Guns and ammo aren’t such a bad idea if one believes in the scenario. Ammo is probably worth more, pound for pound, than silver or gold. But you’d better have some very, very remote place in mind where you plan to take them, and a plan for how you are going to get there without being followed, and a plan for what morally licit thing you are going to do when you get there and find out that some other people had the same idea and got there before you.

    Personally I think there are things to do within reason, and beyond that we simply must trust in Providence. Time spent praying is a much better investment than time collecting coins or whatever, in my view.

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  14. Zippy –

    Good point about food ultimately being more important than precious metals. In that vein, ammunition suitable for hunting small game might also be valuable for barter.

    I’m not anticipating our society descending to those depths, but it never hurts to have an extra case of shotshells on the shelf.

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  15. “Who has what legal title to what under the present legal regime ranks fairly low on the totem pole of what would be pertinent…”

    I may be a gloom-and-doomer, but I’m not so pessimistic as to expect the total collapse of our legal system. I think it likely that government will survive and property will remain legally protected.

    Property taxes are onerous, of course, and owning one’s property free and clear does not guarantee possession, but the albatross around everyone’s neck in this economy is a mortgage. We can handle our property tax bill; the mortgage on top of that is what kills.

    I don’t think heading for very remote place in the wilderness is a good idea – at least not for most people. Most should remain close to a social network of some kind.

    What I see happening is the emergence of a new class of destitute persons without – as you say – “19th century” survival skills. Besides lacking skills, this generation does not have the patience, fortitude, or social restraint of our forefathers who lived through the Great Depression. That’s where the morally licit use of firearms comes into play: self defense, plain and simple.

    “Personally I think there are things to do within reason, and beyond that we simply must trust in Providence. Time spent praying is a much better investment than time collecting coins or whatever, in my view.”

    I can’t disagree with that.

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  16. I may be a gloom-and-doomer, but I’m not so pessimistic as to expect the total collapse of our legal system.

    I wouldn’t necessarily expect total collapse of our legal system in a Depression II scenario (25%+ unemployment, etc) either. But in a democracy, the law regarding property is whatever that hungry mob of narcissistic zombie movie buffs chooses for it to be; and one thing I’m pretty confident of is that whatever preparations are made predicated on today’s laws would be virtually useless under the new laws.

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